Hampshire & Isle of Wight

New Forest visitors urged to record tree graffiti sightings

Tree etching Image copyright New Forest NPA
Image caption The image of a person can be seen etched on to a tree near Burley

Graffiti etched on to trees within the New Forest is set to be recorded as part of a new study.

Dates, pictures and symbols dating back centuries can been found on trees but have never been formally recorded.

The New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) is urging visitors to record sightings of markings - known as arborglyphs - before they naturally disappear or the trees fall.

The authority said the etchings were a "window into the past".

Image copyright New Forest NPA
Image caption The 'King's Mark' showed a tree was earmarked for shipbuilding

Among the most common tree graffiti in the New Forest is a broad arrow head known as "the King's Mark", the NPA said.

It was used to identify trees reserved for building Royal Navy ships. The later use of iron and steel meant the trees remained untouched, and still bear their royal mark centuries later.

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Concentric circles, or "witch's marks", are thought to have been carved into trees to ward off evil spirits.

"Over time, the marks are warping or are being damaged by animals or humans. Trees blowing over or dying also threaten the longevity of these historic records," the NPA said.

The finds will form a central record of tree graffiti which will be made available online.

Image copyright New Forest NPA
Image caption The etchings were made by local people, soldiers and officials over the centuries

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